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HENRIK SIMONSEN | ‘Blue Butterflies’
February 27th 2023
Whether it is a thicket in the proximity of his childhood home or a patch of wild grass on a far-away continent, Henrik Simonsen finds the often overlooked and unremarkable fragments of nature and portrays it in all its splendour. In his works, trees are majestic and wind-torn crooked bushes become mystifying; intriguing stories told lavishly with colour that are more an expressionist language rather than a depiction of real nature. Featuring a single tree with butterflies as leaves, Blue Butterflies displays a rich colour palette of silvery gold tones with a range of crisp blues, following up on Simonsen’s direct themes of transition and short-lived moments flooded with light.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
Three ships departed from the most southern part of Argentina, heading for Antarctica in the summer of 2015. A few days into the trip, the ships were caught in the middle of a storm in Drake’s Passage, a passage feared by most sailors for the unpredictable weather. It did get quite rough. One evening, Simonsen was in the cabin shower when the boat did a sudden move, and as a natural reflection he tried to reach for something to hold onto. The closest object was the wall-mounted soap bottle which he managed to grab and pull out of the wall; and in the fall he got himself rolled into the shower curtain, then falling into the bathroom and landing in the sink. Still firmly holding the bottle of soap. Simonsen was fine, and so was the vessel; the only one of three ships making it to Antarctica.

Past the stormy passage, a different scenery awaited the modern-day adventurers. Days saturated with the deep marine blue of the ocean - often so calm that it became a mirror of its surroundings - and the blinding white of the ice caps; crisp, crackling, noisy ice that occasionally broke the deafening silence of the continent. It was a monochromatic world of purely blue and white nuances that only twice a year is interrupted by the golden, glistening rays of the rising or setting sun.

Back in the studio amongst the exposed concrete walls of a renovated factory building in former East Berlin, Simonsen’s new body of work wouldn’t let go of the impressions from the expedition. A deep ultramarine blue - a colour he had found difficult in the past - found its way to dominance in several paintings as the artist was gradually converted to its warm hues.
HENRIK SIMONSEN
Blue Butterflies, 2017

Edition of 60
6 Artist Proof (APs)

77(w) x 101(h) cm
30.51(w) x 39.76(h) inches
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HENRIK SIMONSEN
Blue Butterflies, 2017

Edition of 60
6 Artist Proof (APs)

77(w) x 101(h) cm
30.51(w) x 39.76(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
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Henrik Simonsen (Danish, b. 1974)
77(w) x 101(h) cm
30.51(w) x 39.76(h) inches
11 layer combined lithograph and screenprint on Somerset Satin 410gsm paper

Image size: 72 x 95cm
Edition of 60
PRICE
$ 1,460.00 Only 2 left at this price
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In Blue Butterflies a solitude trees stands on a small raise on the ground. Slightly leaning to one side and windswept after years in the open terrain. The dark - almost black - silhouettes of the branches have been robbed by the winds of its natural leaves, fighting a never ending battle against the elements, alongside the short, thick and untidy grasses below. Despite the evidence of being in the wilderness, there is a peaceful and almost religious sensation to the work: a tree caught in a moment of calm before a new promising beginning, suggested by the present butterflies, the ultramarine blue - a colour that symbolised holiness in the Renaissance - and the rich silvery gold sky in the background.

Simonsen often portrays his subjects in a moment of transition, such as the blue hour, a time of day when the colour spectrum slowly shifts to darker tones before the night sets in; or a late summer’s day, briskly welcoming the autumn. It is the artist’s vibrant expressionist colour palette, influenced by the Nordic light, that every so often signals the changing energy in the works. However in Blue Butterflies - and earlier works such as Fragile and Red Leaves - he uses butterflies as a messenger of the annunciation. In that sense the work is filled with symbolism, illustrating the ephemeral nature of life and highlighting the Simonsen’s believe that all things that comes to an end, also connects to a fresh beginning.

“Even if similar in shape and size, in reality, leaves and butterflies are very different. One can flutter in the wind but not move. The other is the image of freedom and movement.”
Henrik Simonsen

The collaboration between Henrik Simonsen and Eyestorm has for more than a decade flourished into seventeen print editions; each one depicting the artist’s representation of a small selective patch of nature. Blue Butterflies may appear indifferent in terms of printing technique, but stands out from other editions. It combines lithography - giving it a more structured base defined by marks and scratches - and hereafter completed with several screenprinted layers of ink to build the ultramarine blue and metallic shine. The edition of 60 is signed and numbered on front.

To view the print edition in further detail and to find more information about available works by Henrik Simonsen, visit the artist’s page here.
 
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Through a systematic study of the physical world, Damien Hirst discovers what a measured input of colour combined with mathematical regularities and randomness look like. Prior to being awarded the Turner Prize in ‘95, Hirst briefly deviated from the perfected grids seen in the famous ‘Spot’ paintings and allowed colour to roam freely on the canvas; intervened only by the laws of physics and thus giving science a voice within the constraints of his purpose-built mechanical device. The result of the journey was dazzling portraits known as ‘Spin’s. Brought to life through layers of inks, Beautiful, Galactic, Exploding Screenprint marks the debut screenprint from the series.
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To convey a moment long gone and a memory distorted by time, Henrik Simonsen chooses colour as language; presenting delightful scenery articulated by the unique Nordic light cascaded onto branches, leaves and grasses. Typical of the artist’s work, he depicts the often unnoticed occupants of the wild Scandinavian flora, elevating them to magnificence; a token of his appreciation to a landscape that has gifted an abundance of memories during his childhood. The second of three print editions circling a theme of blue - a colour the artist regularly revisits - Blue Grass is an exceptionally vibrant portrait of a small patch of nature conquered by untamed grasses.
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